Lightning conductors for churches

Tall buildings like churches are often fitted with lightning conductors to prevent damage from a lightning strike.  These may just seem like a strip of metal, but they’re useful tools and like any other part of the building, they should be maintained and looked after.


What is a lightning conductor?

A lightning conductor is a piece of apparatus used to protect a tall building from a lightning strike.  A metal rod is mounted at the very top of a building (such as the spire of a church) and is connected to a stake buried in the ground by ribbons made from conductive materials such as copper or aluminium.   This type of conductor is called a Franklin Rod after Benjamin Franklin, who invented it during the 1700s.


How do lightning conductors work?

It may seem odd that you would want lightning to strike a rod at the top of your church but because the rod is made from a conductive material, the lightning will choose to strike that rather than the less conductive material of the church spire.  By allowing lightning to strike the conductor the ribbons take the electrostatic discharge straight into the ground, instead of letting it pass through the structure of the building where it could cause damage such as fire or electrocution.


When should our lightning conductor be inspected?

Any lightning conductors should be examined and tested by a competent contractor at least every 5 years. They should be testing your lightning conductor in accordance with Code of Practice for Earthing BS7430: 1998. Particular care should be taken to check that all of the conductor ribbons are intact, especially after any building works or visitors allowed onto the roof of the tower. Any breaks in the ribbons are a positive danger and should be repaired immediately.


Does our insurance cover lightning strikes?

Our full package church policies do cover damage by lightning.  It’s not usually a requirement or condition of the cover to have a lightning conductor fitted but if your church is tall, has a tall spire or the building has been stuck by lightning before, we do recommend that you consider getting one fitted.


If you have any queries about whether your church is covered in the event of a lightning strike or about your church insurance in general, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01564 730 900 or by email at